Racing ahead – Why local innovations are important for our future

Racing ahead – Why local innovations are important for our future

Updated 3 hours ago ·
Published on 23 Aug 2023 10:30AM ·

LET me put it plainly: We need stronger engagement from key ministries and major corporations to reshape the trajectory of homegrown innovations. This shift will enable Malaysians to reap the benefits of a technology-fortified future and be resilient against future shocks.

From a macro socio-economic perspective, the adoption of homegrown inventions stands as a pivotal lever driving job creation and value generation. This, in turn, enhances our global competitiveness while bolstering our capacities and reducing our reliance on foreign labour and technologies. Notably, charges for the utilisation of intellectual property (IP) in Malaysia doubled from 2012 to reach nearly RM1 billion in 2021. Just the year before, Malaysia saw a record-breaking 8,500 new technology patents.

As the demand and supply of innovation gain momentum, we target to translate these patents into the commercialisation of 500 local products by 2025 under the 12th Malaysia Plan – all towards driving greater return on ideas. 

Mosti’s National Technology and Innovation Sandbox has fast-tracked 24 products to market that have generated RM51.8 million in sales revenue. Through this and many other programmes, Malaysian innovators have developed solutions, including IOT-enabled medical devices, to improve diagnostic health, augment efforts for disaster relief using drones, increase manufacturing outputs using robotic arms, solar-powered on-board electric vehicle chargers and many more, which are waiting to achieve economy of scale. 

How can we highlight these remarkable tried-and-tested solutions and create room for more real-life adoption?

In June, I unveiled initiatives aimed at stimulating greater demand for “Invent in Malaysia” products through the Finance-Ministry backed MySTI programme. This initiative will serve as the primary directory and reference for innovations with filed IPs in Malaysia. Essentially, any company seeking to list its innovations on the MySTI platform will be required to submit an application. Following a committee review and approval, the company will be awarded the MySTI certificate and logo. This endorsement paves the way for future prospects, including government and corporate procurement.

MySTI will also systematically and strategically elevate Malaysia’s reputation and competitive advantage in the global community, positioning us as a nation that values and safeguards intellectual property. This, in turn, encourages foreign investment and partnerships.

Beyond programmes, we require collective action. I wish to urge all my fellow colleagues in other ministries and government agencies to leverage MySTI in elevating national innovation to the next level.

Another pivotal initiative that promoted homegrown innovations was the Malaysia Commercialisation Year (MCY) Summit 2023. During this event, we anticipated more than 60 companies, academic institutions, and organisations to showcase their solutions to “innovation hunters” on August 3-4 at Connexion, Bangsar.

Malaysia allocates more than RM150 billion (nearly a fifth of the GDP) annually for procuring goods, works, and services. While this figure is commendable, it falls slightly short compared to developed and emerging countries that allocate over 20% of their GDP to public procurement.

There exists room for growth in this arena, offering an opportunity to support locally-developed innovations that can enhance public service delivery and address pertinent societal and sectoral challenges. In Malaysia Madani, innovation serves as a pivotal pillar for socio-economic progress and rejuvenation. Collaborating with local innovators provides a strong foundation to realise these aspirations. Local innovators possess the advantage of agility, in addition to a better and deeper understanding of local context and requirements.

To all institutions of higher learning, corporate innovators, investors, and SMEs, we extend an invitation to join our long-term mission. Utilise demand-generation platforms such as MySTI, MCY, and more to fortify your track record and accelerate your growth.

I wish to reiterate that Mosti is committed to facilitating and supporting an inclusive, progressive environment for Malaysian innovators and inventors. With the National Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy guiding our actions from 2021 to 2030, we are working to transition our industry and society from technology users to technology developers.

With increased public and corporate sector buy-in and support for “Invent in Malaysia” products, we will undoubtedly propel national innovation to even greater heights. No challenge is too great to overcome if we work together. – August 23, 2023.

* Chang Lih Kang is science technology and innovation minister.

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